Singing and Worship During a Pandemic

From the Psalms of David to Mary’s song of rejoicing in the Gospel of Luke, singing is a natural and essential part of life for the  people of God. Matthew and Mark remind us that, when Jesus shared a last supper with his friends, it was only after “they had sung the hymn” that the journey to the Mount of Olives began (Matt. 26:30, Mark 14:26). In the words of Barbara Brown Taylor, “the Word Made Flesh became Music as well.”

When we gather together in songs of praise, our voices and hearts echo with the voices of that great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us. Joined as one, our singing resounds with strength and boldness to proclaim a mystery  beyond that which we might express with individual voices or individual faiths. Our wordless prayers are given breath to lead us forward seeking and following God’s transforming love.

And so, it is with heavy hearts we acknowledge the pressures placed on our collective voice by COVID-19. Numerous sources have outlined the potential dangers of group singing before the introduction of a reliable and available vaccine or the implementation of nearly universal testing. We have made every effort to continue providing heartfelt and communal singing in our weekly live streams and are resolved to continue making music a central part of our shared worship.

As we dream of ways forward, we ask for your prayers. Prayers for wisdom and renewal as we learn new rhythms and new technologies. Prayers for comfort to those called to minister through song and now finding their work interrupted. Prayers for the health and safety of all people.

When a child is dedicated at Highland, we collectively pledge to sing to them the songs of faith. We encourage you to live into that pledge, making time to keep the great hymns of the church a part of your lives and the lives of all who will come after us. We encourage you to continue joining your voices in song as part of our virtual worship services. With faith in the God of beauty and glory, we await the day on which our mighty “Amen” sounds from God’s people again—reunited—forever in glad adoration.